Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Book Information
Author: Daniel Handler
Publication Date: August 6, 2012
Number of pages: 354
Genre: Young Adult

Book Blurb

I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.


Why We Broke Up has a clever and original premise: a teenage breakup, treasured trinkets, naïve memories, and the emotional mess a love story always brings. Written by Daniel Handler, this unique epistolary novel uses a stream-of-consciousness narration aided with lovely illustrations courtesy of Maria Kalman.

Min Green, short for Minerva the goddess of you-know, is a film buff with quirky ideas and nerdy friends. Ed Slaterton is the popular basketball jerk jock and campus heartthrob. As polar opposites of each other, Ed and Min are highly unlikely to get together. But they do because as Ed explained, Min is… different.

(In other news, I find it weird why guys often tell girls how different they are from their ex-girlfriends and dates. Come on, is 99% of the women population generic? This pick-up line never sat well with me. I feel so sorry for the countless former girlfriends of the fiction world.)

Anyway, Min retells their painful story through a soon-to-be-delivered letter and a soon-to-be-discarded box of souvenirs from events that inevitably led to their break-up. Each chapter begins and ends with illustrations of each reason why. But, uhm, I didn't get it. Seriously I wanted to love this book. I enjoyed Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and expected to like this novel just as much. I love the idea, but I didn't like any of the characters except maybe for Al (Min's best friend). Min is likable.  I just thought her character wasn't right for this. I also skipped a lot of her indie/vintage film references because I couldn't relate and I didn't want to look them up. I searched them on Google earlier and found out that the seemingly endless list of movies were all made up. No wonder I wasn't familiar with any of them. Haha! Maybe I should reread the book to appreciate Handler's creativity more. Sadly I don't think I want to.

Overall, Why We Broke Up is still unique and interesting despite its flaws. The selfish ranting, rose-colored first impressions and bitter recollections are reminiscent of our own post-breakup angst and misery. However whether you'll love the book or not depends on your reading palate. It's like choosing to break up with your boyfriend, you either have the feeling or you don't. 

I wish I liked the book more, Daniel Handler. I guess I'll stick with Lemony Snicket.

Quotes I Love

This is just one quote, though:

"I'd ruin any day, all my days, for those long nights with you, and I did. But that's why right there it was doomed. We couldn't only have the magic nights buzzing through the wires. We had to have the days, too, the bright impatient days spoiling everything with their unavoidable schedules, their mandatory times that don't overlap, their loyal friends who don't get along, the unforgiven travesties torn from the wall no matter what promises are uttered past midnight, and that's why we broke up."

Beautiful! =)

My Recommendation

Give this book a try. It's a fast read with gorgeous artworks, so... it's okay.


  1. Just started listening to the audiobook version of this yesterday. Not really loving it. I can't stand how Min romanticizes everything. It's like reading my old journals from high school. . .I'm embarrassed for her.

    1. Same thoughts here. Min is too whiny for me. =(


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